I set off towards Summer’s house around noon; the movie was at one and Summer and I wanted to arrive together and have a bit of a de-stress chat beforehand.
‘What is his name anyway?’ I asked as soon as got there.
‘Hi to you, too. His name is Justin, OK?’ Summer threw at me, like it was a trivial bit of information not worth knowing.
‘What does he look like?’ I fired at her.
Maybe this mysterious Justin would be a Steve look-alike?
‘I don’t know, we’ve never met,’ Summer said dryly.
‘What’s he like?’
Summer gave a non-committal noise. Oh, great. Hadn’t she even bothered to check up on what he was like before she landed me in a double date? This was sooo typical of Summer. Sweeter than an Easter bunny but dimmer than a light bulb at times. I’m not being deliberately mean. It’s true. I remember once in Year Seven when we were supposed to be handing in a Geography project but it slipped by us and by the time we’d remembered it was too late. I’d cleverly conducted a story about how we’d left it at home after slaving hours on it and we didn’t have time to rush back home as we didn’t want to be late for form and how it’s difficult remembering all our stuff in this big new scary secondary school. (Using Summer’s big eyes, of course to melt even the frostiest teacher’s heart). But when it came to the crunch and me and Summer were called upon she burst into tears and blurted out how we’d forgotten to do anything. The tears didn’t help anything; we still got an hour detention, a one-day deadline on the homework and the whole class calling us a pair of babies when only one of us had been blubbing our eyes out. All this was led by Moira, of course, and that’s how we started being enemies. Because she’s a malicious little b- let’s not go there.
Summer noticed my sigh. ‘What?’
‘Oh, nothing,’ I said gloomily.
‘Spit it out!’ She demanded.
‘Well it’s just...don’t you think it would’ve been better if you’d actually asked about this Justin? He could be anybody!’ I burst out.
‘No he couldn’t!’ Summer begun hotly. ‘Look, he’s a mate of Steve’s so he’s sure to be a –’
‘- prat!’ I finished crudely.
Summer’s eyes blurred with sudden tears. ‘How can you say that? Steve’s lovely, you know he is...’
Perhaps it was because I was sick of being told how lovely Steve was, or just really bitter.
‘Everyone knows Steve is just a stupid jack the lad player!’ I snapped.
Summer opened her mouth and closed it again, looking speechless.
‘Why are you always so over-sensitive?’ I said, maintaining my petulance mood.
‘Why are you always so mean?’ Summer whined, drooping like a dog with a lost bone.
‘I am not “always” so mean!’ I said, but the anger was already sucked out of me.
‘I’m sorry, I don’t know what’s got into me,’ She apologized.
‘What?’ I stared at her. ‘It was me being mean! I’m sorry about what I said about you and Steve –’
‘Forget it. You had a point. He has got a reputation as being a bit of player,’ She turned the full force of her eyes on me. ‘Do you think he’d ever - ?’
‘No!’ I said firmly, my heart beating furiously hard against my chest.
‘Look at the time! We need to get going!’
I allowed Summer to take my hand and half drag me to the cinema where the boys were waiting.
Justin was nothing like Steve, to my disappointment. He was this perfectly ordinary, lanky blond boy with murky green eyes that seemed to lose you in its unseeing depths. When we met he shook my hand like a gentleman and held the door open for me at the cinema screening door, which made Summer positively beam with happiness but it made me feel a little patronised. Still, at least if I started dated him properly nobody would suspect I liked Steve...no, I couldn’t use a person with a heart, brain and feelings; I tried to reason with myself. I would just have to see how things played out. The film itself was some mindless comedy I do not know for my life why we picked. The boys seemed to find it hilarious, though, and Summer and I kept darting quizzical looks at each other throughout the movie which clearly meant: ‘Is this meant to be funny?’ Sometimes, out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw Steve glance over at me, but the second I’d looked over to check he was facing the screen and determinedly chatting to Justin about the film. This left me feeling frustrated, confused and guilty. Frustrated because why the hell would he be looking at me, for? Confused because he had a girlfriend and guilt for the obvious reason: Summer, for my heart had soared above the stars when I’d thought Steve was looking at me.
Justin nudged me. ‘Enjoying the film, babe?’
How dare he call me ‘babe’ when we weren’t even going out together!
‘No, I am not enjoying the bloody film,’ I said flippantly.
Justin looked confused. ‘But, baby cakes...’
He reached over to touch my shoulder.
‘One: do not call me baby cakes and two: I would rather have a giant squid touch me than you!’
With that I withdrew and stalked off out of the cinema screen and down a corridor, feeling every stare boring into the tightened muscles on my back.
After five minutes or so I heard a voice calling for me. Steve’s voice. But I was still fuming. Had I not told Summer what a pig he was sure to be? Why oh why did I have to be stuck with the losers all the time?
‘There you are!’ Steve said in relief when he spotted where I was lurking.
‘Oh, it’s you,’ I answered in the surliest voice I could muster to prevent myself from running at him full pelt and –
‘Summer sent me to look for you while she explains the golden rule on girls to Justin,’ He half-grinned, half-rolled his eyes.
‘Whatever,’ I said carelessly, my heart sinking.
Steve looked at me in surprise. ‘Hey! What’s up? You really seem to hate Justin.’
‘Does it show?’ I said sarcastically.
‘A little bit,’ He said casually, moving closer.
He was so close now I could hear the ticking of his heart, see the glorious face in all its beauty and cheek, feel a dark flush slowly creep up my cheek. I took a deep breath to steady myself – his breath, fresh and smelling of peppermint gum, washed over me irresistibly, and at that moment, nothing else seemed to matter. Not Summer, not Justin, not my resolution to stay the hell away from him. It all vanished in that one, impeccable moment of madness.
‘You look really pretty tonight,’ He purred.
‘Really? ’Cause you’re looking real pretty tonight, too,’ I returned.
We both laughed. The sound filled the corridor with life.
‘Summer and Justin will be wondering where we are –’ I started.
‘They will,’ He agreed. ‘But I think we’re maybe lost...’
‘You’re lost,’ I corrected him.
‘In what way?’
‘You tell me.’
My heart was thrumming away like a bird’s as he leaned in even closer. Our lips met in the middle; moist and soft and sweet. His lips were as plump as I had always dreamed about and in that one second I realized there was no getting over this crush as we looked into each other’s eyes, hazel on chocolate.
The princess had found the lost forbidden prince at long last.